Dutch ovens and fascinating facts about them tend to reveal a very famous, and historical, kind of cook pot that’s been well-known in America and parts of Europe for centuries. Made of cast iron and featuring thick walls, it comes with a top that fit tightly over the open pot. It’s still popular to this day and learning a bit about the oven might even prove to be somewhat entertaining.
A product of the Dutch of the 17th century, it was an ingenious device in both design and the materials it was made from. The Dutch, of course, of that day were highly motivated when it came to creating and then exporting many different goods. Soon enough, the little oven/cook pot began to make appearances all over Europe and Great Britain, which came to prize it highly.
The British themselves, who were also known for ingenuity and their own mercantile spirit, experimented with changes in design and manufacturing until a new version of the pot was patented in 1708. It was sent in great numbers over to Britain’s American colonies, as a matter of fact, where it became equally as valued and appreciated.
The Americans, not content to leave the little oven unchanged, added in order that it could be placed over hot coals and also make design changes to the lid, enabling other hot coals to be placed on its top without contaminating the food within. The oven’s pot also became somewhat shallower and the oven became wider as a result.
Cast iron is a metal that can be susceptible to rust, but a special “seasoning” process was developed to deal with that problem. With a little bit of experimentation on the part of many different people, a specific kind of seasoning process was developed to help ensure that the bare cast iron wouldn’t be as susceptible to rusting once it was coated with certain substances.
Users of the pot in those days would take animal fat, usually, and coat the cooking surface of the pot in it. Once that was accomplished, they’d heat the pot to seal in the oils, which kept the pot from rusting, basically. Periodic re-applications of fat were, of course needed and they were almost never scoured or washed used any sort of soap.
Such seasoning processes are used even to this day, because most people feel that the best-made Dutch ovens are those that come with bare cast iron to allow their owners to engage in the seasoning of the oven by themselves, which is half the pleasure of owning such a cook pot. They are still a prized asset among many owners, who use them to cook, fry, stew or roast most any food, for what it’s worth.